Fire levy a ‘Big Rip Off’, Labor councillor claims

RATEPAYERS and businesses will be hit next month with a new levy from Berejiklian Government of around $323 per year for homes and around $3000 per year for small business.

The new Fire and Emergency Services Levy will be charged in rates notices from July 1 and has been blasted by all political factions on Ryde City Council and described by Clr Jerome Laxale (ALP) as a blatant rip off that will leave families struggling and will force some shops to close.

Conservative estimates discussed at Ryde Council last week put the average annual fee for home units at $143 per a year, homes at $323 per year, shops at $3,155 per year and factories at a massive $3,666 per year.

According to a government fee reckoner a residential home with a fixed rate of $100 will pay a variable rate of $21.90 .

“For example if Jo lives in a house classified residential. and her land is valued at $424,000 according to the 2016 notice of valuation from the Valuer General her levy will be $100 plus 4.24 times $21.90 to equal $192.86.”

The Berejiklian Government also claims the fire services levy contribution should drop from an annual average $233 to $185 which is a saving of $47 a year for fulkly insured home owners.

Ryde MP Victor Dominello acknowledged there is community concern and that everyone’s concerns will be heard and respected, especially the concerns of small business.

“The Berejiklian Government is a government that listens,” he said.

Angered by what he regards as a fee hike , Ryde Liberal Councillor Roy Maggio moved a motion to condemn the levy which was seconded by Labor Clr Jerome Laxale and was passed unanimously.

“This will blow up when ratepayers receive their rates notice and there will be a mountain of complaints,” Clr Maggio said.

“On top of this, it look like ratepayers will have to pay for extra council staff to administer this, which will mean employing more staff to collect more money on behalf of the government.”

Labor Clr Laxale said rates have already gone up through a recent special levy and he predicted that landlords will pass on the increase to tenants through increased rents .

He rubbished the government’s figures.

“One ratepayer told me he currently pays $70 in insurance fees and now the amount he’s going to be hit with is an extra $300, you tell me how this is fair,” he said.

“If you run a small business, for example, you be hit with a 33 per cent increase of around $3,000 each year and for some small shops that’s the difference in profit and non-profit for a year.”

“And what do we already pay taxes for if its not for essential services like hospitals, roads, schools, police and fire fighters,” he said.

Liberal Clr Sarkis Yedelian OAM agreed.

“Some businesses in Gladesville will be closing if they can’t afford to pay,” he said.

“For some businesses their land tax has already doubled because the formula we have is not correct because we rate according to the land value.

“And how will a pensioner whose land value is now a million dollars afford to pay this huge increase ?”

The government said pensioners would be protected but it is not yet clear if self funded retirees will also be protected.

Ryde councillors received a strongly worded report on the new Levy at last Tuesday night’s council meeting from Chief Financial Officer Steve Kludass.

Mr Kludass reported the increase will have a “profound impact” on ratepayers and will require staff to rate the land value of every local property to work out how much to charge and enforce the payments.

A staff memorandum to Councillors – obtained by The Weekly Times further warns that the fee hike will need to be “managed sensitively” due to ratepayer anger.

“The FESL has the potential to draw major criticism and dissatisfaction amongst our rate paying community. This will need to be managed sensitively, particularly in light of the increasing numbers in our community that are experiencing financial difficulties,” it said.

It is not even known if fire stations and other emergency services will directly benefit from the levy described by opponents as a new poll tax although local fire stations have suffered cut backs and can now charge a call out fee for emergencies.

“It is the big insurance companies that will benefit from this as well as a government prepared to pick people’s pockets every term it is in,” Clr Laxale said.


 Premier Gladys Berejiklian will defer the introduction of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy.

The Premier’s announcement was made as The Weekly Times went to press and she said the levy will be reviewed because businesses are worse off under the current model.

She said an Insurance Monitor will ensure insurance companies collect only the amounts necessary to meet fire and emergency services funding requirements.